About Betsy—Why I’m a Boudoir Photographer

Finding My Way to Becoming a Boudoir Photographer in Kalamazoo

Finding my Way to Becoming a Boudoir Photographer in Kalamazoo

As a Kalamazoo Boudoir photographer, I have the incredible honor of diving deep into a client’s journey and sharing in the celebration of her womanhood. It doesn’t get more vulnerable than this! The GRIT&GRACE experience forces you to strip away (literally and figuratively) the weight you carry with you every day to get in touch with your inner warrior. In the spirit of vulnerability, I thought I’d share my own story of growth as well as my own self-love work through having my own boudoir photos taken. I'm even going to share some of my favorite photos…Are you feeling my vulnerability yet?! 😉

I began my photography business in 2005 after being inspired by my wedding photographer. I was such a fan girl that he invited me to shoot a wedding. I was instantly HOOKED. It took time and experience to discover my voice, but I finally found my way to photojournalism, focusing on storytelling through unscripted moments. It’s what got me EXCITED. I shot over 250 weddings with my late husband. When he unexpectedly passed away in 2016, I lost my life partner and my business partner. The cornerstone of our business crumbled around me. I loved photography and knew it was my purpose, but I had to find a new way to do it—away from living in the shadows of the past. Friends told me that clarity would come through personal photo projects, so I packed up my bag and put myself on sabbatical, traveling abroad for almost a year. I had NO IDEA WHAT I WAS GOING TO SHOOT, but I knew if I started shooting for myself and no one else, my voice would eventually emerge.

That’s me with my camera in Paris, one of the many places I lived abroad for a year. I have an insane love for Paris! I spent a total of 2 months there in 2017-2018. Photo by She Wanders.

Fun fact: I was lovingly adopted at birth and learned in my 30s (after being a photographer for a few years) that my great grandfathers on both sides were photographers. Genetics are interesting, right? My paternal great grandfather was a street photographer in Paris. The first time I went to Paris (20 years before knowing this), I was inconsolable as I was leaving and said to my BFF, “I feel like someone’s ripping my heart out. I have unfinished business here.” A weird thing for a 22 year-old to say. Hahaha. I decided to explore that path more as I traveled, drawing on my experience in wedding photojournalism and my natural curiosity about people. Guess what? Street photography came naturally to me! It tapped into a patience I didn’t know I had. I had an innate sense that would make me wait on a corner for 15-20 minutes because I KNEW something was about to unfold in that scene because I could just feel it in my bones. It taught me to be in the present and breathe into a moment until that moment became the next moment. There was no past. There was no future. Just the present. This changed my perspective on everything. Keep reading on and I’ll share a link to my travel gallery at the end so you can see what I studied during my travels!

Afternoon Nap, Paris, 2018
I’d wander the streets of Paris for 12–14 hours a day, discovering and capturing everyday life of Parisians. 
Signature shot from that first session that ignited GRIT&GRACE .

I had no idea how to translate what I’d learned into the next version of my business, but I knew it had to incorporate a process that slowed people down to appreciate and embrace the present. I dug in deep and worked nonstop for several months to redefine my business as a solo artist, Betsy McCue Pictures. I focused on Life Documentary sessions and Personal Branding. A few months later, a woman stumbled upon my old wedding work and insisted I was her person for Boudoir, and specifically, the type of boudoir photos she wanted. What?! I didn’t really have a boudoir portfolio and I was terrified but said yes. We had an amazing collaboration and her transformation during this challenging part of her life resonated with me. I fell IN LOVE with the work instantly. I knew we were on to something. It felt like everything else had been preparing me for this. I’m so thankful for this client seeing more of me than I knew was there. She gave me permission to express my own creative voice without boundaries. 

I discovered how much this work lit my soul ON FIRE. We’re always searching for that thing that makes us want to jump out of bed in the morning and just do it again and again. This was it!! 

After my own journey as a phoenix rising from the ashes, I knew what it was like to rebuild my identity as an individual, a woman, and a sensual being while discovering how to be confident and comfortable in my own skin after losing my foundation and all the roles that I thought defined me. Part of that journey has included boudoir photo sessions for myself as well! I know from first-hand experience how life-changing and confidence-building boudoir can be because I’ve gone through that transformation myself. I think it’s been invaluable to see myself through someone else’s lens. It’s changed my attitude about a lot of things…including my tushie!! But I think it’s so cool to see the marked difference in self-confidence between my first and second shoot below. Thank you, boudoir!! 🙂 

First set of images: Melissa McClure Boudoir. Second set: Kelly Segre of Gré Photography.

And now I’ve even shot some of my own boudoir photos…

After my own journey as a phoenix rising from the ashes, I knew what it was like to rebuild my identity as an individual, a woman, and a sensual being while discovering how to be confident and comfortable in my own skin after losing my foundation and all the roles that I thought defined me. My experiences helped me deeply relate with women going through their own self-love journey. It’s been a gift to turn all of that around into something I can use to help lift other women up. There is always light—even in the darkest times—if you keep your eyes open and shift your perspective. 




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